|Publication number||US8111385 B2|
|Application number||US 12/359,593|
|Publication date||Feb 7, 2012|
|Filing date||Jan 26, 2009|
|Priority date||Jan 26, 2009|
|Also published as||CN102272644A, EP2389605A1, US20100188652, WO2010085395A1|
|Publication number||12359593, 359593, US 8111385 B2, US 8111385B2, US-B2-8111385, US8111385 B2, US8111385B2|
|Inventors||Maurice P. Bianchi, George A. Hamlin|
|Original Assignee||The Boeing Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (23), Non-Patent Citations (34), Classifications (8), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present disclosure relates generally to optical fibers, and more particularly to non-invasive sensing mechanisms for the real-time diagnostic analysis of an operational optical fiber.
While optical fiber transmission systems have numerous advantages, they also have several problematic aspects. For example, (1) the transmitter power is subject to high manufacturing tolerance; (2) the transmitter power decreases with time (depending on wavelength, from scarcely detectable to very strong); (3) optical fibers made from plastic age very quickly, especially when exposed to strong temperature fluctuations; (4) the surface of the contact points of the optical fibers is scratched by frequent changing of the plugs, which additionally increases the attenuation; and (5) the sensitivity of the receivers is likewise subject to high manufacturing tolerance. One of the worst problems is posed by aging and the decreasing transmitter power. The failure of an optical fiber link, for example owing to high attenuation of the optical fiber, can cripple entire systems.
Several different methods have been established to monitor the health of an optical fiber transmission system to detect such problems. However, current methods are extremely complicated, invasive, and often involve the disruption of the communication operation. For example, one method involves mechanically forcing and critically aligning a bare (uncladded) portion of an optical fiber against an unclad portion of the operational fiber in order to extract the information by evanescent wave coupling (i.e., the process by which electromagnetic waves are transmitted from one medium to another by means of the evanescent, exponentially decaying electromagnetic field). Another method involves bending the operational fiber enough to cause the transmitted information carrying light wave to fall into the escape cone of the fiber so that it can be retrieved by a diagnostic sensor.
As such, it would be advantageous to have a non-invasive fiber-optic sensor for performing real-time diagnostics on signal and information transmission with a minimum of disruption and complexity.
The present disclosure relates to an optical sensor device, and methods of using the device, for the real-time diagnosis of an operational single mode optical fiber communication system in a simple, non-invasive manner. The devices and methods of the present disclosure also do not require any force-fitting or critical alignment of another optical fiber, or bending of the optical fiber, to contact the operational fiber in order to couple the evanescent wave.
One aspect of the present disclosure provides an optical fiber capable of being diagnosed non-invasively comprising an optical fiber for conveying a light beam; the optical fiber comprising a first end for receiving said light beam and a second end opposed thereto, a core comprising an inner wall, and a cladding surrounding the core, the optical fiber further comprising at least one uncladded portion comprising a plurality of quantum dots dispersed in a medium, wherein the quantum dots become activated by evanescent wave coupling resulting from the total internal reflection of the light beam contacting the inner wall of the optical fiber core and wherein the activation results in emittance of light from the quantum dots.
In one embodiment, the plurality of quantum dots comprise a bandgap that is below the bandgap of the light beam. In yet another embodiment, the quantum dots are tuned to emit infrared light.
Another aspect of the disclosure provides a system for the non-invasive and real-time diagnosis of an optical fiber comprising an optical fiber for conveying a light beam, the optical fiber comprising a first end for receiving the light beam and a second end opposed thereto, a core comprising an inner wall, and a cladding surrounding the core, the optical fiber further having at least one uncladded portion, wherein the uncladded portion comprises a plurality of quantum dots dispersed in a medium; a light source to inject a light beam into the first end of the optical fiber; a detecting device for detecting light emitted from the plurality of quantum dots; and an analyzing apparatus for analyzing the detected light operably connected to the detector.
Yet another aspect of the present disclosure provides a method of non-invasively diagnosing an optical fiber comprising placing a medium comprising a plurality of quantum dots dispersed therein on an uncladded portion of the optical fiber; injecting a light beam into one end of the optical fiber; and detecting any light emitted from the quantum dot that has become activated by evanescent wave coupling resulting from the internal reflection of the light beam contacting an inner wall of the optical fiber core.
Various other aspects, features and embodiments will be more fully apparent from the ensuing discussion and appended claims. The features, functions, and advantages that have been discussed can be achieved independently in various embodiments of the present disclosure or may be combined in yet other embodiments further details of which can be seen with reference to the following description and drawings.
Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present disclosure, preferred methods and materials are described herein.
The articles “a” and “an” are used herein to refer to one or to more than one (i.e. at least one) of the grammatical object of the article. By way of example, “an element” means at least one element and can include more than one element.
As used herein, the terms “light” and “photon” are used interchangeably, and are defined as a discreet bundle of electromagnetic energy and is intended to include gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, visible light, infrared light, microwaves and radiowaves.
As used herein, the term “dispersed” is defined as the distributing or spreading of a fine particle (e.g., a plurality of quantum dots) more or less evenly throughout a medium.
The term “optical communication” as used herein is defined as the ability of an object to come into contact with light reflected by, or emitted from, a different object. For example, a light detector of the present disclosure is in optical communication with a quantum dot of the present disclosure when light emitted from the quantum dot is able to come into contact with the detector.
The term “operably connected” as used herein is defined as the connecting of two devices or objects such that each is able to communicate (e.g., transmit data between devices) and/or function as a result of the connection.
The terms “light beam” and “carrier light wave” are used interchangeably herein and refer to the light that travels within the fiber optic core.
The term “activation” as used herein refers to the movement of an electron from the valance band to the conduction band of a quantum dot as a result of an external stimuli (e.g., heat, evanescent wave coupling, voltage, photon flux and the like). The raised electron and created hole taken as a pair are referred to as an exciton. The raised electron only remains in the conductive band for a short period of time before returning to the valance band. As the electron falls back down across the bandgap, electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength corresponding to the energy it loses in the transition is emitted. As used herein, the term “emitted light” refers to the emitted electromagnetic radiation released by the raised electron when falling back across the bandgap.
The terms “fiber optic cable,” “optical fiber,” “optical communication fiber” and “optical cable” are used interchangeably herein and refer to those fibers that carry light along its length. Typically, the longest wavelength used for optical fiber communication is about 1550 nm.
The present disclosure relates to the real-time diagnostic analysis of an operational single mode optical fiber communication system in a simple and non-invasive manner. Referring to
The uncladded portion 7 may be obtained by removing a portion of the cladding 6. The removal of the cladding 6 may be done using many techniques known to those skilled in the art, such as plasma processing, chemical etching, and laser processing. For example, chemical etching may be done using chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid (HF) that dissolves the optical fiber components in a rather linear way by removing progressively the exposed cladding material. Alternatively, it may be advantageous to use laser processing, which provides greater flexibility and improved integrity of the mechanical and physical properties of the optical fiber as compared to chemical etching. It is not imperative that all of the cladding be removed from a portion of the optical fiber. Indeed, it may be advantageous to remove the cladding from only a portion of the optical fiber, thereby reducing the risk of compromising mechanical integrity of the fiber, since less material need to be removed to reach the core. Such embodiments are illustrated in
Again referring to
As will be appreciated by the ordinary skilled artisan, the term “quantum dot” (“QD”) in the present disclosure is used to denote a semiconductor nanocrystal. QDs are semiconductor materials whose size corresponds to the Bohr radius of the exciton (i.e., the bound state of an electron and electron hole). Instead of exhibiting characteristics of the bulk material, QDs instead exhibit characteristics of those atoms found in the bulk material of the same composition. Characteristically, and as shown generally in
According to the present disclosure, the QD comprises a “core” that is a nanoparticle-sized semiconductor. Semiconductors are chemical compounds of elements from the periodic table, and are grouped according those elements which make up the semiconductor. For example, group II-VI semiconductors comprise elements from groups II and/or VI of the periodic table (e.g., ZnS, ZnSe, ZnTe, CdS, CdSe, CdTe, HgS, HgSe, HgTe, alloys thereof and mixtures thereof, group III-V semiconductors comprise elements from groups III and/or V of the periodic table (e.g., GaAs, GaP, GaSb, InGaAs, InAs, InP, InSb, AlAs, AlP, AlSb, alloys thereof and mixtures thereof), group IV semiconductors comprise elements from group IV of the periodic table (e.g., Ge, Si), and group IV-VI semiconductors comprise elements from group IV and/or VI of the periodic table (e.g., PbS, PbSe, PbTe).
The QD may also comprise a core and a cap comprised of different materials (i.e. fluorescence of the QD can be increased and enhanced by using a core/cap structure). Hence, in those embodiments where fluorescence of the QD is desired, a core/cap structure may be used. As used herein, the term “cap” refers to a semiconductor that differs from the semiconductor of the core and binds to the core, thereby forming a surface layer or shell on the core. The cap must be such that, upon combination with a given semiconductor core, results in a luminescent quantum dot. In this regard, the cap helps stabilize and enhance the fluorescence emitted by the excited core (e.g., when the core is contacted with ultraviolet light). Preferably, the cap passivates the core by having a higher band gap than the core, so the excitation of the QD is confined to the core, thereby eliminating nonradiative pathways and preventing photochemical degradation. Typical examples of QD cores include, but are not limited to, ZnO, ZnS, ZnSe, ZnTe, CdO, CdS, CdSe, CdTe, MgS, MgSe, GaSa, GaN, GaP, GaSb, HgO, HgS, HgSe, HgTe, InAs, InN, InP, InSb, AlAs, AlN, AlP, AlSb, alloys thereof, and combinations thereof. Some examples of core:cap combination which are within the scope of the present disclosure include, but are not limited to, CdS/HgS/CdS, InAs/GaAs, GaAs/AlGaAs, and CdSe/ZnS. In general, the cap is 1-10 monolayers thick, more preferably 1-5 monolayers, and most preferably 1-3 monolayers. A fraction of a monolayer is also encompassed under the present disclosure. Regardless of whether a single core or a core/cap structure is used, the entire QD preferably has a diameter ranging from 0.5 nm to 50 nm, more preferably from 1 nm to 30 nm, more preferably from 1 nm to 20 nm, and more preferably from 1 nm to 10 nm.
QDs may be synthesized in numerous ways and are well known to those skilled in the art. Some common methods include (1) the spontaneous generation in quantum well structures due to monolayer fluctuations in the well's thickness; (2) the capability of self-assembled QDs to nucleate spontaneously under certain conditions during molecule beam epitaxy (MBE) and metallorganic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE), when the material is grown in a substrate to which it is not lattice matched; (3) the ability of individual QDs to be created from two-dimensional electron or hole gases present in remotely doped quantum wells or semiconductor heterostructures; and (4) chemical methods, such as synthesizing ZnTe QDs in high-temperature organic solution (see, e.g., Zhang, J. et al. Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Vol. 942, 2006). These and other processes for the synthesis of QDs are well known in the art as disclosed, for example, by U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,906,670, 5,888,885, 5,229,320, 5,482,890, and Hines, M. A. J. Phys. Chem., 100, 468-471 (1996), Dabbousi, B. O. J. Phys. Chem. B, 101, 9463-9475 (1997), Peng, X., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 119, 7019-7029 (1997), which are incorporated herein by way of reference.
The wavelength emitted by the QDs is selected according to the physical properties of the QDs, such as the size of the nanocrystal. QDs are known to emit light from about 300 nm to about 1700 nm. For example, CdSe QDs can be produced that emit colors visible to the human eye, so that in combination with a source of higher energy than the highest energy of the desired color, these QDs can be tailored to produce visible light of a spectral distribution. QDs can also be produced to emit light in the ultraviolet and infra red spectral ranges.
QDs may be “tuned” by varying the composition and the size of the QD and/or adding one or more caps around the core in the form of concentric shells to widen the band gap width of the QD. As the QD approaches the excitation Bohr radius of the semiconductor of the QD, the bandgap will get wider. Therefore, the smaller the QD, the wider the band gap. For example, Indium Arsenide has a bandgap of 0.36 eV. Light emitted from this QD has an infrared wavelength of 2.78 μm. However, by making a ternary alloy of Indium Arsenide having a composition of 0.53 Indium and 0.47 gallium, the wavelength of the emitted light can be changed to 1.68 μm. This concept is depicted in
In accordance with the present disclosure, the QDs are tuned to absorb the longest wavelength used for optical fiber communications, which is typically about 1550 nm. The QDs must then be able to absorb enough energy at that wavelength with little or nor overlap between the absorption and emissions spectral curves, which will be longer than 1550 nm (see, e.g.,
As used herein, the term “infra red light” refers to the wavelength of light which is longer than visible light but shorter than terahertz radiation and microwaves. Infra red light has a wavelength of between 750 nm and 1 mm. According to the International Commission on Illumination, infra red light encompasses three “subdivisions” based on wavelength. These include: (1) Infra Red-A (IR-A) that has a wavelength range of about 700 nm to 1400 nm; (2) Infra Red-B (IR-B) that has a wavelength range of about 1400 nm to 3000 nm; and (3) Infra Red-C (IR-C) that has a wavelength range of about 3000 nm to 1 mm. Those skilled in the art will also recognize that Infra Red light may also be subclassified according to the following scheme: (1) Near-infra red (NIR) that has a wavelength of about 0.75 to 1.4 μm; Short-wavelength infra red (SWIR) that has a wavelength of about 1.4 μm to 3 μm; (3) Mid-wavelength infra red (MWIR) that has a wavelength of about 3 μm to 8 μm; (4) Long-wavelength infra red (LWIR) that has a wavelength of about 8 μm to 15 μm; and (5) Far infra red (FIR) that has a wavelength of about 15 μm to 1,000 μm. All of these are within the scope of the present disclosure. In certain embodiments, the plurality of QDs emit light in the infrared regime and have a wavelength of about 0.1 μm to 1000 μm, from about 0.7 μm to 750 μm, from about 1.0 μm to about 500 μm, and from about 1.5 μm to about 250 μm.
According to the present disclosure, the plurality of QDs 8 are dispersed within a medium 9. The term “medium” 9 as used herein refers to any material in which the QDs 8 can be dispersed and that is at least partially transparent or translucent, i.e., allows light to pass through or diffuses light passing through.
Fiber optics use the property of total internal reflection to keep light beams focused without significant loss of signal. Total internal reflection is an effect that combines both reflection and refraction. This concept is depicted in
θc=sin−1(n 2 /n 1) equation 1
where n1 and n2 are the refractive indices of the fiber core 5 and cladding 6, respectively. This angle is measured between the ray of light and the normal to fiber core walls. Rays having an angle equal to or above this value (θc) will be reflected on the fiber core wall and the ones having an angle lower than this value will partly go through the wall.
At the point of total internal reflection, and as shown in
As previously discussed and according to Equation 1, in order to obtain optimal results, the coupling of the light from the optical fiber core to the medium containing the QDs is optimized through the proper choice of the refractive index of the medium with respect to that of the fiber core. This is achieved by making the refractive index of the medium lower than the refractive index of the fiber core. Table 1 below provides a number of materials suitable for use as a medium in the present disclosure as well as their respective indexes.
TABLE 1 Refractive Index Material (approximate) Glass, Arsenic Trisulfide 2.04 Glass, Crown (common) 1.52 Glass, Flint (29% lead) 1.569 Glass, Flint (55% lead) 1.669 Glass, Flint (71% lead) 1.805 Glass, Fused Silica 1.459 Glass, Pyrex 1.474 Lucite 1.495 Plastic 1.46-1.55 Salt 1.516 Polystyrene 1.55-1.59 Polyimide 1.70 Polyacrylamide 1.48 Polymethylmethacrylate 1.48 (PMMA) Polyethylene 1.51 Poly-diacetylene 1.50 Polysaccharide 1.10-1.80 Polysulfone 1.63 Polypyrrole 1.334 Polythiophene 1.95-2.28 Polyether 1.42-1.45 Epoxy 1.49-1.53 Silica glass 1.459 Silica gel 1.47 Siloxane 1.44 Polyphosphate 1.48 Hydrogel 1.48-1.55 Agarose 1.33-1.51 Cellulose 1.46 Sol Gel 1.40-1.60 Polycarbonate 1.55 Polypropylene 1.51
It should be noted that the index of refraction of a medium can be changed by altering its composition and/or properties, and are well known to those skilled in the art. For example, the index of refraction for PMMA can be altered by exposing the PMMA to an ion beam, see, e.g., Biersack, J. et al., Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. 1990. Section B, 46(1-4): 309-312. Similarly, the addition of inorganic compounds may also alter the index of refraction for a medium. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 7,192,999. For polyacrylamide, the index of refraction can be altered by adding/removing sucrose. See, e.g., Franklin, J. et al. Chem. Mater. 2002. 14:4487-4489. In certain embodiments, the medium material may include, but is not limited to, Sol-Gel glass, polyacrylate, polystyrene, polyimide, polyacrylamide, polymethylmethacrylate, polyethylene, polyvinyl, poly-diacetylene, polyphenylene-vinylene, polypeptide, polysaccharide, polysulfone, polypyrrole, polyimidazole, polythiophene, polyether, epoxies, silica glass, silica gel, fluorozirconate glass, fluoroaluminate glass, chalcogenide glass, siloxane, polyphosphate, hydrogel, agarose, cellulose and the like. In certain embodiments, the medium is Sol Gel glass or polymethylmethacrylate. Sol-gel chemistry, and exemplary monomers used to prepare inorganic matrices by sol-gel chemistry, are disclosed in the following references, where each of the following references is hereby incorporated herein by reference: see, e.g., C. J. Brinker et al. Sol-Gel Science, The Physics and Chemistry of Sol-Gel Processing, Academic Press, San Diego (1990); D. R. Ulrich J. Non-Cryst. Solids (1990) 121:419; G. L. Wilkes et al., Silicon-Based Polymer Science, Advances in Chemistry Series 224; J. M. Ziegler and F. W. Fearon, Eds. Am. Chem. Soc., Wash., D.C. (1990), pp. 207-226; R. Dagani, Chemical & Engineering News (1991) 69-21:30; P. Calvert, Nature (1991) 353:501; and B. M. Novak, Adv. Mater. (1993) 5:422.
The insertion of the QDs dispersed in the medium may be placed within the uncladded portion of the optical fiber in many ways that are well known to those skilled in the art. For example, in the case where the QDs are in a powder, they can be placed within the opening by integrating the QDs with an epoxy glue, preferably having a refractive index less than that of the fiber core. The medium may also be integrated into a silica powder which can be melted into the opening by heating with a heating devices, such as a laser. In the case where the medium can be melted with a laser without damaging the quantum dots, the medium could me directly melted into the uncladded portion. Alternatively, the medium can be included into a paste, which can be cured by UV or laser illumination. In the case where the medium can not be down sized into a powder or paste, it can be chemically etched or laser machined to match the shape of the uncladded portion. The medium may then “glued” into place with, for example, an epoxy.
Again referring to
The medium may be of various thicknesses so long as the QDs dispersed within the medium can come in contact with the evanescent waves generated by the total internal reflection of the carrier light wave traveling within the fiber optic core. Suitable thicknesses for the medium include, but are not limited to, for example, from about 1 to 50 μm thick, from about 2 to 40 μm thick, from about 3 to 35 μm thick, from about 4 to 30 μm thick, and from about 6 to 26 μm thick.
As used herein, the term “detecting device” refers to any device capable of detecting light. Examples include, but are not limited to, the AP series, AT1 series, AT2 series, and AT2S series infrared detectors manufactured by CalSensors, Inc., and the like. Preferably, the device will be able to detect low light levels (i.e., low light sensitive). More preferably, the device will be a low light sensitive infrared detector. In certain embodiments, the optics of the detecting means comprises a band pass filter having a transmission window matched to the peak emission of the QD. In other embodiments, the optics of the detecting device comprises a notched filter having a transmission window matched to the peak emission of the QD.
As used herein, the term “analyzing apparatus” refers to any device capable of analyzing data collected by the detecting device that are well known to those skilled in the art, such as a spectral analyzer. Suitable analyzing apparatuses include, but are not limited to, the AQ6331 Optical Spectrum Analyzer (OSA) manufactured by Yokogawa Electronic Corp., the MS9780A OSA manufactured by Anritsu Co., the Q8344A, Q8347, Q8383, and Q8381A OSAs manufactured by Advantest, the 71450B, 71451B, and 71452B OSAs manufactured by Agilent, and the like. In certain embodiments, the analyzing apparatus further comprises a demodulating device that is capable of recovering the information carried in the light beam.
In another embodiment of the disclosure, and shown in
According to another aspect of the present disclosure and with reference to
Thus, in order to diagnose the system according to the present disclosure, QDs dispersed in the medium within the uncladded portion are excited by evanescent wave coupling generated by the total internal reflection of a carrier light beam traveling within the fiber optic core. The excited QDs then emit light at a wavelength according to the QDs bandgap. The emitted light is then collected by a detecting device that is operatively connected to the uncladded portion of the fiber optic cable. The collected light is then sent to an analyzing apparatus that is operatively connected to the detecting device, where it is then analyzed to determine the parameter values to be measured. Suitable parameters to be measured include any parameters that will provide information relating to the health and integrity of the optical fiber, such as disruptions of the carrier light beam due to breaks or fractures in the optical fiber, temperature, and the like. In certain embodiments, the means for detecting light comprises a transmission window that is matched to the peak emission of the QDs.
In yet another aspect, the present disclosure provides a method of non-invasively diagnosing an optical communications fiber comprising providing an optical fiber for conveying a light beam, where the optical fiber comprises a first end for receiving the light beam and a second end opposed thereto, a core having an interior wall and a cladding surround the core, the optical fiber further having at least one uncladded portion, wherein the uncladded portion comprises a plurality of quantum dots dispersed in a medium; providing a means for generating light, where the generated light is injected into the first end of the fiber optic cable; providing a means for detecting light in optical communication with the QDs; and providing a means for analyzing the detected light that is operably connected to the detector, wherein the QDs become activated by evanescent wave coupling generated by the total internal reflection of the light beam off of the interior wall of the fiber core, the QDs emit light at the wavelength of the QDs bandgap. The detecting device detects the light emitted by the activated QDs and transmits the collected information to an analyzing apparatus to measure the different parameters.
It is understood that the foregoing detailed description are illustrative only and are not to be taken as limitations upon the scope of the disclosure. Various changes and modifications to the disclosed embodiments, which will be apparent to those skilled in the art, may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. Further, all patents, patent applications and publications cited herein are incorporated herein by reference.
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|Cooperative Classification||G02B6/2852, G01M11/35, G02B6/0229|
|European Classification||G02B6/02N, G02B6/28B10, G01M11/35|
|Jan 26, 2009||AS||Assignment|
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Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BIANCHI, MAURICE P.;HAMLIN, GEORGE A.;SIGNING DATES FROM20090113 TO 20090123;REEL/FRAME:022155/0140
|Aug 7, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
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